Joel Jacinto, a member of the powerful Los Angeles Board of Public Works, which oversees major infrastructure and environmental decisions for Mayor Eric Garcetti, abruptly resigned Friday January 18 amidst a growing corruption probe by the FBI of possible bribery, kickbacks and extortion by City Council members and top aides to Garcetti involved in land development in Los Angeles.
“We have been urging Mayor Garcetti since 2016 to address what we believe is a tainted, pay-to-play culture within the City Council and among the mayor’s appointees,” said Coalition to Preserve LA Executive Director Jill Stewart. “We warned him that the vote-selling that scandalized Los Angeles City Hall in 1966 was going to raise its ugly head again.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, Jacinto was in regular contact with former Deputy Mayor Ray Chan, another Garcetti appointee who attended closed-door meetings with real estate developers. The pugnacious Chan has publicly stated that in Los Angeles “the developer is our customer.”
Jacinto and his wife Ave Jacinto are among 13 city officials and mayoral appointees named in an FBI warrant that was revealed on Twitter last Saturday by Georgetown University researcher Seamus Hughes.
The corruption probe has left the City Council’s powerful land-use committee, known as “PLUM,” in disarray, with its chairman Jose Huizar stripped of his powers in November after an FBI raid on his home.
Yet another seat was empty at the Tuesday Jan. 15, 2019 PLUM meeting when Los Angeles City Councilmember Curren Price, also named in the FBI warrant, failed to appear.
At the Tuesday meeting, members of PLUM bristled at extensive criticism lobbed at them. Los Angeles City Councilmember Gil Cedillo accused community groups and non-profits of creating a “Day of the Locust” atmosphere of “hysteria” in reaction to the FBI probe.
PLUM approved the disputed three-tower skyscraper “Crossroads,” which will generate 1423,00 vehicle miles per day and raze a vibrant historic Latino community in Hollywood, replacing it with rooftop pools, 35-story buildings, massive supergraphics and 22 liquor licenses.
Hollywood City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, who has taken money from developers, Harridge and Mort La Kretz, insists the mega-development is a great idea and even “sustainable.”
The project was first approved by Mayor Garcetti’s political appointees on the Los Angeles City Planning Commission, who in racially tinged comments late last year dismissed the tight-knit community that will be destroyed by the skyscrapers as “not worth preserving” and even “dormant.”
Since the revelations by Georgetown professor Seamus Hughes and the Los Angeles Times of a widening FBI investigation, Mayor Garcetti has been insisting during media interviews that he has “no tolerance” for corruption.
Jill Stewart, of Coalition to Preserve LA, says Garcetti instead needs to “crack down on the river of developer money and lobbying wining and dining flowing to City Hall figures who help developers break the rules — and perhaps break the law.”
Although the California State legislature has seen wave upon wave of elected leaders sent to prison for corruption, 1966 was the last time a sitting Los Angeles City Council member went to prison — for selling his vote to developers.